Surfski Emergencies

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8 years 1 week ago #22611 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
In Barry Lewin's report on the tragic event of last Saturday, he states -

"He praised the organisers of the upcoming PE2EL Surfski Challenge for having already committed to putting tracking devices fitted with a panic button on every boat that will take part in the four day race".

Does anyone have any idea of what devices?

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8 years 1 week ago #22612 by [email protected]
They are GSM/GPS devices i.e. trackers like the Trackimo gadget.

I don't know what make they are, I believe the cost is in the region of R2K each.

I think for them to become a standard no-brainer part of our kit, the cost needs to be substantially less than that ie of the order of R300-R500 and, say, R50 per month.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
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8 years 1 week ago #22614 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
I agree on the cost Rob, the suppliers need to do their sums - a few at full price or many at affordable price. I still think that if they go for a bulk deal to Ocean Paddlers, they could donate a portion of the monthly fee to NRSI - this may be an added incentive for paddlers to purchase the devices and pay the subscription. Let's see if anyone comes to the party.

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8 years 1 week ago #22616 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
Rob, they are already at the price you're suggesting.

You say R600 + R50 per month = R1200 for a year.
Available at R1300 incl tracking for first year. Then R25 per month paid anually. Up to 5 days on battery.

Units with live web tracking are on bidorbuy for less than this and lower annual fees already e.g. R100 per year for tracking.

Quality and key features will vary so buyer beware. Ideally all paddlers in an 'area' should be on the same platform for simultaneous viewing.

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8 years 1 week ago #22618 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
Mako - what device are you referring to?

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8 years 1 week ago #22620 by Mako
Replied by Mako on topic Surfski Emergencies
Take a look at cootrack.co.za then products and then personal trackers. The unit I was quoted on is R999 (Quote for same from another source was R1300)

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8 years 1 week ago #22632 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Surfski Emergencies
Link to NSRI paddling safety precautions
www.nsri.org.za/2014/11/paddling-safety-precautions/

They seem to think PLBs may take too long, an opinion also given to me by SAMSA, but strangely make no mention of a VHF.
AIS MOB devices find more favour. I found some here
www.macete.co.za/product-category/mcmurdo/ais-mob-devices/

SAMSA recommended to me a handheld marine VHF, cellphone and flares with the drawback being that there is no locator signal in any of this unless using a tracking app on the phone.
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8 years 1 week ago - 8 years 1 week ago #22638 by uk_exile
Replied by uk_exile on topic Surfski Emergencies
VHF certainly has the advantage it’s instant contact ‘if’ there is signal and ‘if’ someone is listening and ‘if’ they take action. Simple to use & can get hardware designed for water immersion.

Mobile similar to VHF however waterproofness and ability to use in challenging sea conditions ‘is’ suspect. Battery life poor ‘is’ if using most tracking apps.

Flares useful ‘if’ someone is watching and ‘if’ they take action.

The tiny strobes are useful ‘if’ someone is watching, however they can be seen from long distance in dim conditions

PLB/EPIRB ‘will’ have a variable delay which is important in cold water however ‘will’ have someone monitoring and then taking action as its an international rescue system used by all aviation & maritime. Simple to use, quality hardware designed for water immersion, long battery life. Key thing is built as a rescue device.

Tracker hardware quality varies. Some ‘need’ mobile signal. Some ‘need’ satellite. Some ‘need’ people watching although some ‘do’ have a help me button. Some have expensive monthly or annual charges although life is always worth more than dollars.

Flag stuffed in PFD pocket you can slide over an vertical paddle ‘is’ difficult to use & ‘needs’ people nearby to see it.
(as side issue is predominantly white coloured skis isn’t a great idea. Anyone know the most visible colours in variable sea?)

High visibility clothing ‘is’ useful

Whistle ‘needs’ people nearby to hear it.

Telling people onshore where you’re going and when you will be back is sensible however ‘will’ be long delay before rescue if you have a problem.

Making sensible choices, wearing a PFD and leash at all times and paddling with others, not alone, in a well maintained ski are the first and best choices. Everything else is backup. Summary, you need more than one bit of hardware & person looking after you !
Last edit: 8 years 1 week ago by uk_exile. Reason: addition

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8 years 1 week ago #22639 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic Surfski Emergencies
Here's a link giving an illustration and explanation of how a PLB (sarsat system) works. My suspicion is if I ever needed to activate a PLB, I'd be dead from hypothermia before any rescuers get to me.
This is just my opinion and I have no experience with a PLB. I could very well be wrong and the system may be quite efficient. In the U.S with the VHF/DSC system, the signal goes directly to the rescue coordination center.


www.sarsat.noaa.gov/sys-diag.html

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8 years 1 week ago #22640 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
Here is an example of live tracking - .mov file (I hope the file uploads ok)

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8 years 1 week ago #22641 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
Seems one cannot upload .mov files, will try something different

CoastPop wrote: Here is an example of live tracking - .mov file (I hope the file uploads ok)

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8 years 1 week ago - 8 years 1 week ago #22642 by uk_exile
Replied by uk_exile on topic Surfski Emergencies

Fath2o wrote: Here's a link giving an illustration and explanation of how a PLB (sarsat system) works. My suspicion is if I ever needed to activate a PLB, I'd be dead from hypothermia before any rescuers get to me.
This is just my opinion and I have no experience with a PLB. I could very well be wrong and the system may be quite efficient. In the U.S with the VHF/DSC system, the signal goes directly to the rescue coordination center.


www.sarsat.noaa.gov/sys-diag.html

I'm sure there's statistics somewhere but I've not seen them. Have heard it's 10-20mins typical here in New Zealand from the time push button until helicopter begins to move. That's a lot in cold water but it's reliable. Other systems have many ifs involved. Having & using more than one is key when it's time critical
Last edit: 8 years 1 week ago by uk_exile. Reason: error

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8 years 1 week ago #22643 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies
I hope this works:

File Attachment:

File Name: LiveTracking.pdf
File Size:649 KB
Attachments:

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8 years 1 week ago - 8 years 1 week ago #22644 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Surfski Emergencies
So we did a downwind yesterday evening and it was quite instructive. We lost sight of one relatively new paddler and didn't think he was going to make it past the harbour wall. It looked like he'd be driven into it by wind and swell.

While stopped and while trying to spot him I took a swim. Because I was trying to remount from the left (my "wrong" side) I took several attempts to remount. I have only recently got a leg leash and without this I would definitely have lost my boat. The wind was probably around 30 knots (update! the CSIR weather bouy in the bay shows it blowing 40 gusting 50! no wonder I couldn't get upwind) but we hadn't reached the tricky part of the crossing yet. Remounting there would have been much more difficult.

We hammered cross/upwind to the lee of an outcrop. (It was almost impossible to make progress) and from there tried to make a call to alert the shore crew of the wayward paddler.

MY CELLPHONE WAS USELESS. I battled to dial the number as I couldn't properly see the screen through the pouch. I finally managed to call my wife but couldn't hear or see if she answered. Apparently she did but also could not hear me.

What did work was the tracking app that I loaded for the first time on my phone. My wife could see where we were from her phone the whole way. No input required other than to start the app prior to the paddle.

Everyone made it safely but lessons learned:
1) I need to practise my remounts especially from the "wrong" side.
2) I need a phone that works in those conditions (or a vhf).
3) in a bit of swell you lose sight of one another very quickly. We need to stick closer together.
4) it's almost impossible to paddle back upwind to assist another paddler so you'd better all be self sufficient i.t.o emergency gear.
5) leg and paddle leashes are essential
Last edit: 8 years 1 week ago by Davidw.
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8 years 1 week ago #22645 by jagter
Replied by jagter on topic Surfski Emergencies
Test your phone in waterproof pouch combo in poor conditions.

I've learned this the hard way. The phone (a cheap nokia with push buttons) worked perfectly in the waterproof pouch. BUT, when there was a strong wind blowing (like in a downwind ;) ) it created a weird feedback loop screeching sound. Making the phone completely useless. I had to SMS with very cold fingers. Once out of the pouch it worked perfectly in the same wind.

It made the screeching sound like when you put a microphone in front of the speaker in a PA system. I've since bought a softer higher quality pouch, and it doesn't have the same problem.

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8 years 1 week ago #22646 by CoastPop
Replied by CoastPop on topic Surfski Emergencies

Davidw wrote: So we did a downwind yesterday evening and it was quite instructive. We lost sight of one relatively new paddler and didn't think he was going to make it past the harbour wall. It looked like he'd be driven into it by wind and swell.

While stopped and while trying to spot him I took a swim. Because I was trying to remount from the left (my "wrong" side) I took several attempts to remount. I have only recently got a leg leash and without this I would definitely have lost my boat. The wind was probably around 30 knots but we hadn't reached the tricky part of the crossing yet. Remounting there would have been much more difficult.

When we practice remounts at Mocke Surfski school, we do it from both sides. Another important tip from Dawid Mocke was what to do when your leg leash is wrapped around the boat - just tug on it and the boat will flip over untangling the leash

We hammered cross/upwind to the lee of an outcrop. (It was almost impossible to make progress) and from there tried to make a call to alert the shore crew of the wayward paddler.

MY CELLPHONE WAS USELESS. I battled to dial the number as I couldn't properly see the screen through the pouch. I finally managed to call my wife but couldn't hear or see if she answered. Apparently she did but I could also not hear her.

I have set all speed dials on my cheap Nokia phone to call Sea Rescue, this requires pressing and holding any button on the phone. I still do not think this is the answer as it is difficult to chat on the phone when you are cold and panicky and the wind is howling.

What did work was the tracking app that I loaded for the first time on my phone. My wife could see where we were from her phone the whole way. No input required other than to start the app prior to the paddle.

Tracking app in my humble opinion is the way to go, but not a great solution on a cellphone as the battery gets depleted in no time at all. I am looking into personal tracking devices, where someone / Sea Rescue / Organisors of events, can track everybody at the same time. Different devices with different hosting sites will not work with groups of paddlers - wip.

Everyone made it safely but lessons learned:
1) I need to practise my remounts especially from the "wrong" side.
2) I need a phone that works in those conditions (or a vhf).
3) in a bit of swell you lose sight of one another very quickly. We need to stick closer together.
4) it's almost impossible to paddle back upwind to assist another paddler so you'd better all be self sufficient i.t.o emergency gear.
5) leg and paddle leashes are essential


You do not mention flares?
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8 years 1 week ago #22648 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Surfski Emergencies
Hi Coastpop

You do not mention flares?[/quote]

I carry both handheld and pencil flares but the situation didn't degenerate to the point where I considered using them.

The Android tracking app I have uses the cell network when no GPS signal is available. Not as accurate but will start using GPS once I take it out of my PFD pocket. I also changed the tracking update interval from the default 5 seconds to 2 minutes to save battery life. Over 2 hours it probably used less than 15%.

Looking at a cheap push-button phone! Thanks for the input.

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8 years 1 week ago #22650 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Surfski Emergencies
Little doubt that a VHF and PLB are the best ways to call for a rescue, once you make a Mayday call your maritime rescue authority will tell you to activate your PLB to help pinpoint your position, they will also alert all craft on channel 16 of your where abouts and situation, this is probably the most immediate way to get action, rather than to activate your PLB and bypass any possible delays while they try to verify/contact the activator or designated people to call etc.

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8 years 1 week ago #22651 by uk_exile
Replied by uk_exile on topic Surfski Emergencies
Does anyone know typical actual range of hand held VHF when close to water surface compared to manufacturer spec ?
The radio's a close relative of mine uses for commercial river kayak guiding are only effective kayak to kayak over a quite short distance. Certainly much much less than their specified 5km line of sight. They've tried a few brands too. Many had very poor speakers when wet so could get message out but couldn't hear responses.

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8 years 1 week ago - 8 years 1 week ago #22652 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Surfski Emergencies
Due to curvature and your low position when in the water you may struggle to get 5km kayak to kayak, however any emergency call should be made through channel 16 and usually will go through a repeater station on the coast, typically the highest point available, in our case in Auckland both the Sky Tower and Cape Colville. Sometimes when I'm trying to reach Coastguard radio on either channel 80 (Waitemata) or 82 (Hauraki Gulf) and I'm in a bay, I will have to either use the other channel (which is a better line of sight) or paddle out of the bay to get away from surround coastline (eg from Hadfields beach to the Sky Tower 80, I can either raise them on Channel 82 Colville repeater or paddle off shore slightly).

Some friends have VHF which are almost useles due to the low wattage, you really need a 5 watt VHF for kayak use. The higher out of the water, the better the coverage, this is a problem if your in the water, but first contact should be made on channel 16, then you can try transfering your call to one of the boat to boat channels 6 and 8.
Last edit: 8 years 1 week ago by Kayaker Greg.

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